The stupid downtown stoplight

Column by Chris Graham

I’m waiting … and waiting …

And waiting …

I’m at the stoplight in downtown Waynesboro at the corner of Main and Wayne.

The city has been involved in an on-again, off-again project to spruce up the downtown for the past several years – and one of the side effects is this stupid stoplight.

Back when the city fixed up the sidewalks on the 300 and 400 blocks of West Main in the heart of downtown, they added what they call these bumpouts at the corners of Main and Arch and Main and Wayne and also at the middle of the extended 300-400 section.

Because of the bumpouts, we lost a turning lane in each direction east and west on Main.

So now at that busy intersection, traffic goes basically one direction at a time.

I’ve timed myself waiting a minute and forty-five seconds to get up Main toward my office at the top of the hill across from the old News Virginian building.

Which means that waiting … and waiting …

And waiting …

Has become part of my daily routine.

Having been given plenty of time to muse on this subject, I am left to wonder …

How can this be good for downtown?

I mean, I work here, and I hate driving downtown knowing that I’m going to have to wait … and wait … and wait … at this light.

Now, if I was a shopper … would I wait and wait and wait and wait?

My guess is a big fat NO.

Which leaves me to think …

This has to be bad for Waynesboro – to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (in state money, it must be pointed out; but the state gets its money from our taxes the same as the city does) to fix up the sidewalks and the rest only to have the work result in less traffic for downtown merchants because of the stupid stoplight.

Doesn’t anybody consider these kinds of things when they’re putting together plans for these so-called bumpouts – which we could also call by another name that occurred to me the other day sitting at this stoplight.

Try washout – because that’s what the impediments to the flow of traffic are going to bring to downtown merchants whose business slowly erodes away as frustrated shoppers take the hint and drive out to the Wal-Mart on the West End of town.

Not that anybody cares what I think …

(Originally published 01-25-07)

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